10th Annual Agave Heritage Festival: Agave Dinners, Seminars & More

Last modified on April 19th, 2018 at 9:41 am

(Credit: The Agave Heritage Festival)

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21apr(apr 21)12:00 am06may(may 6)11:59 pmAgave Heritage FestivalDinners, Seminars, & More(april 21) 12:00 am - (may 6) 11:59 pm AZ Multiple Locations

Tucson’s Agave Heritage Week is back and better than ever with the 10th annual Agave Heritage Festival from Friday, April 27 – Sunday, May 6.

This year, look for agave tastings, seminars, art exhibits, garden tours, world-class culinary events, and much more.

Additional events and revised events will join the celebration, such as the downtown stroll known as the MEZCrawl and the Agave Heritage Dinner at Maynards Market & Kitchen.

With the amount of events happening throughout the week, you’ll need to plan wisely, accordingly, and with the utmost dedication to all things agave.

Firing the Agave Roasting Pit

Friday, April 27

Local ethnobotanist Jesus Garcia is preparing the labor intensive practice of using an underground oven for agave plant roasting. It’s an opportunity to learn about agave roasting heritage and the uses for the plant after roasting.

It’s from 6 – 8 p.m. and is a private event for Mission Garden donors.

Mission Garden is located at 946 W. Mission Ln. For more information, visit agaveheritagefestival.com.

An Evening with Janos: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary Master

Friday, April 27
Executive chef Janos Wilder at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Executive chef Janos Wilder at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The Carriage House is hosting a fundraising dinner brought to you by the Native Seeds/SEARCH celebrating renowned Tucson chef, Janos Wilder from 6 – 9:30 p.m.

The dinner is to celebrate Wilder’s more than 25 year commitment to the Tucson culinary and non-profit scene.

Former chefs and collaborators who under his guidance are reuniting for one evening to join forces on a four-course dinner to celebrate chef Wilder and his cuisine.

Participating chefs include:

  • David La Force – who worked with Janos at his restaurant at the Westin la Paloma Resort, and is currently the Manager of Culinary Standards at True Food Kitchen for Fox Restaurant Concepts
  • Carlos Calderon – worked as Chef de Cuisine at JANOS at the Westin La Paloma Resort, and is the ?Brand Chef for North Italia at Fox Restaurant Concepts
  • Bruce Yim – joined Janos in 2010, first at JANOS at the Westin La Paloma, and then as the opening Chef de Cuisine at DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktail
  • Marianne Banes – was the Pastry Chef at the original downtown JANOS, and is currently in her 20th year as Pastry Chef at Kingfisher Bar & Grill
  • Devon Sanner – has been with Janos since 2005 when he joined the staff at JANOS and JBar and became the Chef de Cuisine there in 2009
  • Brian Smith – recently joined Janos as part of the team of local Chefs representing Tucson as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy around the world, and is currently the Executive Chef at Maynard’s Market + Kitchen
  • Brian Vernon -worked as Sous Chef at Jbar, and now works on the local shamrock sales team

Seats are $150 per person and include an agave-inspired cocktail happy hour, the four-course dinner ,and a silent auction.

The Carriage House is located at 125 S. Arizona Ave. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit agaveheritagefestival.com.

Opening of the Agave Roasting Pit

Saturday, April 28

Mission Garden is opening the agave roasting pit with Paul and Suzanne Fish from 5 – 8 p.m.

The professors of anthropology and curators of archaeology from Arizona State Museum will explain the prehistoric use of the agave plant.

Jesus Garcia of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum opens the oven, demonstrating the ancestral practice of agave roasting.

Carolyn Niethammer will demonstrate how to cook agaves at home, followed by an agave spirit tasting with Doug Smith from Exo Roast Co.

Tickets are $45 for adults and $15 for anyone under 21 years old.

Mission Garden is located at 946 W. Mission Ln. For more information, visit agaveheritagefestival.com.

Agave Fiesta

Saturday, April 28
(Credit: The Agave Heritage Festival)

(Credit: The Agave Heritage Festival)

The Agave Fiesta will showcase all things agave, including presentations by Gary Nabhan and friends, over 30 agave spirits, an agave cocktail showdown, and an Agave 101 Seminar from 6 – 9 p.m.

Live music, agave spirit tastings, agave art, and other goods produced or inspired by the agave cactus will be at the event, too.

Tickets are $40 if you buy them prior to the fiesta, and $45 on the day of.

Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For more information and to buy your tickets, visit agaveheritagefestival.com.

Agave Garden Planting

Sunday, April 29

From 8 – 11 a.m., you can get your hands dirty and participate in the ceremonial planting of agave cactus with Ben Wilder at the Tumamoc Hill Agave Terrace Garden.

The event shows you what it’s like to give back to the land and experience a centuries old tradition.

Tickets are $25 per person, and the proceeds will benefit the garden.

The Tumamoc Hill Agave Terrace Garden is located on Tumamoc Hill Rd. For more information, visit agaveheritagefestival.com.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Gala Dinner

Sunday, April 29

The City of Gastronomy, Chef Weston Holland of Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Chef Brian Smith of Maynard’s Kitchen are collaborating on a very special dinner from 5 – 9 p.m.

The menu will integrate wild crafted foods of the Sonoran desert.

The menu has yet to be released.

Seats at the table are $250 per person.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located at 2021 N. Kinney Rd. For more information and to purchase your tickets, visit agaveheritagefestival.com.

Bacanora: Spirit of the Sonoran Desert

Monday, April 30

From 6 – 7 p.m. at EXO Bar, you can learn about the rich heritage of the Sonora desert and the agave cactus with an inspiring discussion regarding agave scarcity, sustainability, and the future of agave products.

There’s also Bacanora and Mezcal tastings. Tickets are $20 per person.

EXO Bar is located at . For more information and to buy your tickets, visit agaveheritagefestival.com.

Pulque & Barrio Bread

Wednesday, May 2
Heritage loaves at Barrio Bread (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Heritage loaves at Barrio Bread (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Sidecar is hosting a pairing of pulque and local baker Don Guerra’s Barrio Bread from 6 – 7 p.m.

Pulque is a milky liquid made from the fermentation of sap from the agave plant, and crusty bread makes the perfect complimentary snack.

Bartenders will be serving up agave cocktails to enjoy along side Barrio Bread with agave-infused dipping sauces.

Tickets are $40 per person, and purchase them quick since space is very limited.

Sidecar is located at 139 S. Eastbourne Ave. For more information, visit agaveheritagefestival.com.

MEZCrawl

Thursday, May 3
(Credit: The Agave Heritage Festival)

(Credit: The Agave Heritage Festival)

From 7 – 10 p.m., the streets of downtown Tucson will be crafting your journey into the cocktail world of mezcal for this year’s MEZCrawl.

Throughout your trek around downtown, agave spirit enthusiasts will each create a cocktail featuring mezcal.

Tickets are $35 per person, and that gets you into all of the participating bars.

Agave Heritage Dinner

Friday, May 4

The Copper Hall inside Hotel Congress is hosting the Agave Heritage Dinner from 6 – 9 p.m.

This unique, collaborative dinner features the only two U.S. Cities of Gastronomy, Tucson and San Antonio, TX, for an exploration of Sonoran heritage dishes.

The menu has yet to be released, but it will include creativity from special guest Elizabeth Johnson, founder of Pharm Table, Maynards Market & Kitchen executive chef Brian Smith, and Cup Cafe executive chef Joe Decker.

Tickets are $95 per person.

First Course
  • Cochineal Ceviche – cohineal, baja red snapper, sweet potato, meyer lemon, leche de tigre, watermelon, radishes, mezcal, and edible flowers
Seconds Course
  • Chile Pequin Short Ribs – beef short rids, chile pequin, nopal asado, zetas, and mesquite flour tortillas
Third Course
  • Ensalada de Milpa – sorrel, arugula, golden beets, purple carrots, purple asparagus, goat cheese, and lemon juice
Fourth Course
  • Capirotada Tamal – artisan bread, eggs, milk, pineapple guava tomatillo, agave nectar, and mezcal creme fraiche

Free Family Friendly Cinco De Mayo

Saturday, May 5

From noon – 4 p.m., Tohono Chul Park is hosting a free Cinco De Mayo event suitable for the whole family.

You’ll be able to appreciate the arts and cultural heritage of the agave plant, along with celebrating the traditions of the southwest.

Also, there’s going to be authentic Mexican food pairings featuring wild foods from the Sonoran Desert, tequila tastings, agave roasting seminars, Jimador presentation, a documentary screening, art installations including Agave Wing art by artist Carrie Mae Rose, and live music.

Tohono Chul Park is located at . For more information, agaveheritagefestival.com.

Cinco De Mayo

Saturday, May 5
(Credit: The Agave Heritage Festival)

(Credit: The Agave Heritage Festival)

Hotel Congress is hosting their 10th annual Cinco De Mayo party 8 p.m. – 2 a.m.

The evening will be filled with live music, dancing, and plenty agave spirits including bacanora, mezcal, sotol, and tequila infused cocktails.

Tickets are $5 per person.

Agave Heritage Brunch

Sunday, May 6

Maynards Market & Kitchen’s chef Brian Smith and Tohono Chul’s chef Michael Montesano are collaborating to deliver a very special Sunday brunch menu from 10 a.m. – noon.

Located at Maynards Market & Kitchen, the event will include both local and wild crafted foods, discussions about the heritage of the local ingredients, and live music from Kyle Bert as he plays Didgeridoo music.

Tickets are $75 per person.

First Course
  • Barrio Heritage grain toast, goat cheese, Maynards and Tohono Chul garden salad, pickled cholla bud, saguaro seed, and quail egg
Second Course
  • Bisonte seca and I’ltoi Ash, Glass Gem popcorn sope, pickled dragon carrot, and concentrated heritage bean
Third Course
  • “60 day corn” milk panna cotta, peach and mescal conserva, and chiltepin shortbread

Maynards Market & Kitchen is located at 400 N. Toole Ave. For more information, call (520) 545-0577 or visit

For a full list of all of the events and what the Agave Heritage Festival has to offer, take a look at agaveheritagefestival.com.

Matt Sterner is a journalist, novelist, loves films, and would like to think he's a filmmaker. When he's eating, he likes to talk with his mouth full and write about it.
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